(NaturalNews) People encounter many types of stress yet there are natural products that will calm and rejuvenate their common thread: the nervous system. Two of the most potent such products are the herbs Valerian and Kava kava, and these also have synergistic benefits when used together. This article will explore these two powerful herbal remedies.
Valerian is a nerve tonic primarily used as a sedative and muscle relaxant. Containing the key constituent Valerianic acid, Valerian reduces nervous tension and anxiety while promoting relaxation and restful sleep. An adaptogen, Valerian acts both as a sedative to those who are over anxious and as a stimulant to those suffering fatigue. Valerian is useful to treat spasms, neck tension, exhaustion, backache, headache, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, menstrual cramps, and high blood pressure. Safe, non-habit forming, and without any serious side effects, Valerian does have an unpleasant odor (it was called phu by the Romans). Valerian contains up to 1.4% volatile oils (bornyl acetate, beta-caryphyllene), iridoids (valepotriates), valtrate, isovaltrate, and alkaloids.
Used since Roman times to relieve stress, Valerian was regarded as a cure-all during the Middle Ages. Favius Calumna used to treat epilepsy, publishing a detailed work. Valerian treats the nervous system itself, essential to actually overcoming certain disorders.
To measure the quality of Valerian, see whether a cat likes it! It has a similar effect to catnip and helps relieve cats of flea rashes (when added to their food along with powdered greens).
Kava Kava – Piper methysticum (Piperaceae)
An indigenous Polynesian vine, kava grows throughout the Pacific islands as far east as Hawaii. Containing the key constituent Kavalactones, Kava Kava contains the resin kawain along with the alkaloid pipermethysticine. A topic pain reliever and aphrodisiac, kava has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and even narcotic effects (if taken in excess). Kava is closely related to P. sanctum, a native plant to Mexico. It also contains kavalactones. Other related species are Piper's Angustifolia, betle, cubeba and nigrum).
Kava kava has major cultural significance in the Pacific Islands, where it has been used for thousands of years without FDA approval. Kava Kava is used in social and religious rituals in the south sea islands, Kava kava's calming and stimulating properties produce both euphoria along with intoxication. Kava can be used as mouthwash due to its powerful antiseptic properties. An analgesic, Kava promotes a restful night's sleep.
To measure the quality of Kava Kava, note that is should have a strong numbing effect in the mouth, and look for products that guarantee 25% or more kavalactones.
Note: As with many herbs and most pharmaceuticals, Kava can be toxic to the liver if used in high amounts for long periods of time. Those with liver problems should consult their doctor before taking Kava kava.
Adaptogens help the body to seek overall system balance. Instead of always pushing the body up (stimulant) or down (sedative), adaptogens move the body toward the middle, where proper balance is achieved.
Thus, adaptogens can act both as a stimulant (to those who are fatigued), and as a sedative (to those feeling overanxious). Valerian is a pure adaptogen (2) while Kava Kava has both stimulating and sedative properties.
These products help you relax and sleep which in turn allows the body to heal itself.
No More Sleepwalking
With most sleep aids, the body is neither here nor there, neither really awake nor truly asleep… a zombie-like state. One wakes up feeling the same. In some cases patients taking prescription medications have been found sleepwalking.
Kava Kava and Valerian have calming rather than sedative effects. These herbs directly calm the mind, reducing any symptoms of anxiety including panic, palpitations, sweating and insomnia. Herbal treatments like Kava and Valerian help to detoxify the nerves themselves (reversing the neurotoxic damage caused by products like MSG and Aspartame). It removes nervous tension often caused by food additives, encouraging a restful sleep.
How to use Valerian and Kava
Many feel that these two herbs are best when used together. People who have not experimented much with herbs will notice an immediate effect with these (unlike St. John's Wort which requires 6 weeks and intense media coverage to work). These herbs quickly make believers out of those who doubt natural medicine!
* Tincture – The concentrated liquids (tinctures with eye droppers) are the strongest and have little flavor, and be sure to use high quality tinctures with guaranteed content of Valerianic Acid and Kavalactones (for about $60, a person can get a 30-90 day supply of both). One normally finds that they do not need them more than a few days in a row, using them only once in a while. Adding the liquid(s) to a little warm water and absorbing the mixture under the tongue before bedtime is the preferred method. This is called sublingual (the sipping action does this naturally if done properly).
* Capsules – Capsules in high quality form are about as fast as aspirin in providing relief and are equally potent to tincture.
* Tea – Neither Valerian nor Kava Kava have a pleasant taste, so tea is not recommended, however that is how Kava Kava is normally consumed in the Pacific islands (it does numb your mouth so you can't taste it for too long). While blends are fine in tincture and capsule form, they should be consumed separately as tea.
Note that low quality versions of these herbs will be far less effective if at all.